Buttery Shortbread Cookies

You may remember from Friday’s post about Two Fat Cats Bakery in Portland, ME that my darling hubster loves shortbread. I’ve asked him exactly what it is about shortbread that he loves so much – the crumbly texture? Maybe the subtle sweetness?  He can’t define it, though. Whatever it is, he can’t resist them whenever they’re around. I made his week, then, when I decided to make a double batch so that I might share the recipe with you today!

In my opinion, the best things about shortbread cookies are how very easy they are to make and the scanty number of ingredients necessary to make them. You only need unsalted butter, sugar (for dusting the cookies), salt, flour, and confectioners’ sugar.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the salt and flour and continue beating until everything is fully incorporated and the mixture resembles wet sand with large clumps, as pictured below (the remaining regular sugar will be used later).

It will seem like you have perhaps missed a step or an ingredient, but this is how the mixture is supposed to look after adding all of the ingredients.

Using your hands, press all of the crumbs together in the bowl until it all forms a cohesive dough.

Now you need to shape the dough. There are a couple of options for this, so I’ll go into them so that you can pick the one that appeals most to you.

Your first option is to use a shortbread mold. These are nice because they are very easy to use, they help the cookies bake evenly, and they score the dough for you so the cookies are easy to cut.

Simply press the dough firmly and evenly into the pan and sprinkle the top with half of the granulated sugar. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes at 300 degrees.

You can also shape the dough into the same size and shaped disk without the pan (about nine inches in diameter and one inch thick). Dock the dough repeatedly with a fork, making a design if desired, then lightly score the dough into eight wedges with a knife to make it easier to cut once baked. Sprinkle it with the sugar and bake for 30 to 35 minutes at 300 degrees.

The last way to make these is to divide them into individual cookies before baking. Separate the dough into 10 pieces, weighing two ounces each. Roll each one into a tight ball, place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and press the cookie until it is about an inch thick.

Since this was my first try making them like this, I left plenty of room between each cookie on the sheet. These won’t spread much at all, however, so you can place them relatively close together. Again, sprinkle with the sugar and bake at 300 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.

If you use a shortbread mold, as soon as you remove it from the oven, run a paring knife around the outside edge. Place the pan on a wire cooling rack and allow it to cool completely. Once cooled, place a flat plate, cookie sheet, or another wire cooling rack on top of the pan. Squeezing the racks together, flip the pan over so that shortbread comes out of the mold. Sprinkle the top with the remaining sugar, slice along the score lines, and serve.

For a large shortbread disk, cool it directly on the cookie sheet and slice it along the score lines before serving.

These are delicious plain, with a cup of tea, but they’re also great with chocolate.

Just melt some semi-sweet chips and dip the bottoms of the wedges in it.

Place the dipped cookies on parchment or wax paper to set up.

The Hubster didn’t like these as much as the plain (he’s a purist at heart), but they are very yummy and worth trying.

A coating just along the bottom is the perfect amount of chocolate.

You can also frost the cookies with a vanilla glaze or…

…a lemon glaze. The preference around here was definitely for the lemon, but the vanilla is good too. I also think that an almond glaze would be very good.

However you choose to serve these, they are wonderful! No, seriously. They’re, like, “don’t bother making them if you can’t have one” good!! And they’re wonderfully easy, so make them…and have one (or three)! Enjoy!

Buttery Shortbread Cookies
Makes 8 to 10 cookie


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar (for dusting)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the salt and flour and continue beating until everything is fully incorporated and the mixture resembles wet sand with large clumps.

Using your hands, press all of the crumbs together in the bowl until it all forms a cohesive dough.

Shape as desired and sprinkle with the 2 tablespoons of sugar. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Allow to cool completely before frosting or serving.

adapted from Baking Illustrated

Vanilla, Lemon, or Almond Glaze


1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla, lemon, or almond extract

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl. Frost cookies once they are cooled and allow to sit for 20 to 30 minutes to set up.

Leave a comment


  1. bttrflybabydoll says

    Mmmm…my favorite Girl Scout cookie is the Trefoil. The shortbread. Yum! I may make these today. We'll see. There are so many other recipes on here that I still want to try.

  2. Sugarbear says

    I LOVE Trefoils! Ironically, Mike isn't a very big fan of those…weird.

    If you decide to do these, they are so fast and easy! So if you're not up to a lot of work today, these might be perfect!!

  3. Sunioc says

    I was just thinking of making some sort of desert, but I didn't want to do too much work considering I spent about 6 hours on the family dinner last night. These will do perfectly. By the way, what kinda flour do you use? Just AP?

  4. Sugarbear says

    Yep…just regular all purpose flour. I use 365 from Whole Foods, but another basic, lower protein flour will work great. I hope you love them!

  5. sunioc says

    Hmm. I ended up with a smooth cookie dough, pretty much the consistency of sugar cookie dough. I don't know if I used too little flour, or let the butter soften too long. It also could be the altitude. I'm pretty high up, and that can make baking pretty aggravating for me. Also I forgot to sprinkle with sugar before baking. Oh well, they were still great. I went with chocolate, but instead of dipping them, I used a piping bag and just did a kinda random crisscross type thing across the top. Definitely gonna do this one again and try to make them better next time.

  6. Sugarbear says

    It sounds like the butter was too soft. I used to think it didn't matter how soft the butter was, as long as it was soft, so I would leave it out all day long. I have since learned, though, that there is such a thing as too soft, and when it reaches that point, it might as well be melted, for all the good it'll do.

    First, your softened butter should still be cool. If it's warm, it's going to be too soft. Second, it should be soft enough to indent with your finger when you press it, but firm enough that you have to press it kind of hard. In another words, if you can indent it just by lifting it off the counter, it's too soft.

    A quick way to soften butter when you're short on time is to microwave a whole stick for ten seconds. Take it out and lightly squeeze it. If it's still very firm, give it another ten seconds in the microwave and test it again. It's usually ready by then, but it not, continue microwaving (at this point cut down to five second increments) until ready.

    I hope this helps! 🙂

  7. vehlr says

    It’s quite strange. I’m a Brit, and I had to look up what confectioners sugar was, but it’s not the sugar I was taught to use for shortbread. I’ll have to try this out and see what the result is like.

    • says

      Hi vehlr, I was actually always taught to make shortbread differently, as well, but since my family moves around so often, I don’t always have access to all of the same ingredients. This recipe is great because I can always get confectioners’ sugar (icing sugar for you, right?), and tastes just as great!

  8. Jag says

    Hi Hi,

    Reading this recipe and the chai tea shortbread – is it ok to use a regular 9 inch cake pan instead to get the wedge shape? or do you recommend shaping out individual cookies instead?


    • says

      Yes, you can definitely use a regular cake pan. In fact, you could even just use it as a mold, and turn the raw dough out into a parchment lined baking sheet. Or you could simply shape the dough into a 9-inch circle. I hope this is helpful.


  1. […] I’m excited to go to Starbucks. A lot. I have no shame. I love the place, it’s true love, and you can’t fight a love like ours. Yes, I know, I’m no coffee drinker, but that’s why I’m lucky. Since I don’t drink coffee, I’ve discovered the many other delicious treats that Starbucks has to offer, and as I’ve said before, my favorite is their chai tea latte. In preparation for my northern exposure, I decided to make another chai treat, this time with the hubster in mind. Maybe you remember how much he loves shortbread? […]